I am NOT my job.

Hello loves!

I suppose the title of this post could be taken a bit controversially; What exactly do I mean, “I am not my job?”  Does it mean I don’t like my job?  Does it mean that I don’t want to be classified as an Art Teacher or Artist?  Does it mean that my job (or any job, for that matter) is not important?

NO.

Does it mean that we often stereotype incorrectly based on a person’s occupation?  Does it mean that I don’t want to be seen ONLY as an Art Teacher?  Does it mean that my job is only ONE aspect of who I am?

YES.

Right now, I’m blessed enough to be going through a virtual Bible Study with some AMAZING ladies through Facebook.  We are reading “Working Women of the Bible,” by Susan Dimickele.  Each of us is a working lady… I’m an Art Teacher, obviously, but others are Personal Trainers, STAHMs, Auditors and all sorts of professionals.  I’m only one chapter in the book right now, but I LOVE it.  I am so excited about what this study will bring, and (being the nerd I am) I can’t wait to use the study guide as I journal and sketch all the inspiration, life lessons, and amazing stories I learn as I meed various women of the Bible.

So yes, I am an Art Teacher, but I am SO much more than that.  As I was re-reading Genesis 1, I came across a tidbit that I’d written a while ago that really sums it up: “Our occupation/function/job in God’s kingdom is NOT what defines us or gives us our worth… God’s very creation OF us is what gives us INFINITE worth. (Specifically referring to Genesis 1:27 here-“God created man in His own image; He created him in the image of God; He created them male and female.”

Oh snap!  He created THEM, MALE AND FEMALE… in His image.  Both of the genders.  In His image.  Even in our crazy, chaotic, gender-stereotyped and otherwise inequality-burdened world, we can find comfort in the fact that God intended something different; something more fulfilling and equitable for everyone.  (Dimickele 22).  I could talk all day about inequality and why I think we should treat others better than we often do.  I can’t understand how someone’s skin color, gender, ethnicity, background, etc. changes who they are; NO MATTER WHAT, we are all children of God, and we have all sinned and fallen short of the glory (Romans 3:23), but He loves us ANYWAYS!  There is nothing to be gained by demeaning others, lifting yourself or others up, or fostering racism (of any kind).  We can’t “earn” status with God… all we can do is accept it.  This blows my mind!

However, I digress… The point of this post is not to ramble or rant about fairness (or my perception thereof).  The reason I wanted to write this post is to share that you, my friend, are worth so much more than your career.  Our careers are so fleeting, ultimately such a minimal part of our lives and existence (maybe not in hours, but definitely in purpose)!  What’s more; our careers are always changing… we jump from one job to the next sometimes, trying to climb up the corporate ladder, nail the next audition, earn partner, or receive the highest honors in our field, whatever they may be.  ONE thing remains constant: God and His calling for our life.  “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” (Matthew 28:19)

This calling is something that matters more than the ins and outs of daily life.  God doesn’t call us to ONE career–He calls us to one purpose, which He can fulfill through any career, if we let Him and expect Him to show up.

I’m not advocating career-hopping.  The last thing I think people need is inconsistency and unreliability!  However, sometimes we change.  Our circumstances change.  The job and its requirements change.  Sometimes, the best thing we can do for ourselves and everyone around us is to be honest; admit that we are either overwhelmed, or the job isn’t right anymore, WE aren’t right for the job at this time, or whatever.

I’ll use a personal example here.  I taught Art for two years (2012-2014).  I was so excited to use my degree and make a difference right out of college.  I graduated from Brevard in May 2012, and by June 15, I had a job… IN MY FIELD.  Honestly, I was surprised, ’cause I’d always been told that was rare, especially in the Arts.  I had all sorts of ideas of what I would do in the classroom, what my life would look like, and where I was headed.

God had other plans.

The first year was pretty good; I had done well, my students succeeded, and I got along with all my colleagues.  However, I wasn’t at peace entirely.  Throughout the second year, I struggled.  Not as far as the job was concerned; I knew what I was talking about, what I was doing, and teaching came easily to me.  Since that seemed to be the case, I couldn’t figure out why I didn’t love it.  I kept thinking to myself, if God gave me this talent for teaching, why don’t I love it?  It got to a point where I was pretty unhappy, and wanted to go back to school, back to being in a studio, painting and working every day.

I spent the next two years at Rochester Institute of Technology in New York, way up near Canada (for reference).  I LOVED IT.  Everything about it.  And I made so many amazing friends, connections, and learned SO much.  Then I graduated, culminating in the most surreal exhibition experience I’ve EVER had.  I found myself at a crossroads.  I had gone to graduate school to pursue a career in the Museum/Gallery aspect of the Arts, so I tried that.  I quickly realized that, between two jobs, I had no time to make my own work.  I thought I hadn’t had time during my teaching years, but juggling two jobs taught me that I really DID, I just didn’t realize it or know how to maximize it.

Enter Pinnacle Classical Academy.  I began thinking about teaching more and more, realizing (after the fact, of course) what I had taken for granted the first time around.  A dear high school teacher of mine reached out to me about teaching Middle and High School Art at Pinnacle, and I was leery at first, simply based on my previous experience.  But I was also excited.  I had done my student teaching at the high school level, and knew I loved that age group.  My first teaching job had been 5th and 6th grade and I only saw them once a week, if even.  At Pinnacle, I’d see them more regularly and for longer class periods.  Plus the school is on the newer side; I would be able to be part of something in it’s developmental stages, evolving as the school grows and improves.  THAT was and is super exciting to me.

So now, I’ll be teaching again in a few weeks.  I’m setting up my classroom soon, rolling out lesson plans, making samples, and drawing up some posters for the classroom.  Meanwhile, I’m really genuinely excited.  Add to that this Bible Study on working women of the Bible, and its focus on putting God first in work and doing everything for Him (Colossians 3:23) and this girl is ready to go!  I’m in a better headspace.  I appreciate what I have more, plus my nephew is 2.5 and has a wee little sister on the way and I now live only 15 minutes from them.

I know the future is uncertain.  I have no idea where this will lead.  I only know one thing: God says, “I know the plans I have for you; plans to prosper you and not to harm you.  Plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11) BRING IT ON!  And keep me accountable, friends.

Peace and love,

Danielle

Nowhere Near…

Do you ever have those days where you realize you’re NOWHERE near where you thought you would be at a certain point in your life?  Maybe you thought you’d be married by a certain age, or done with school by a certain year.  Maybe you thought you’d be traveling or living/working somewhere exotic.  Maybe you never thought you’d leave home, or vice versa, couldn’t wait to leave, but haven’t.  Maybe you’ve failed at something, lost a job.  Maybe your significant other broke up with you, or you have been disappointed, stepped on, or let down in more ways than you can count.

Maybe you never had any idea where you’d go, who you’d be, or what you’d do…

Maybe you still don’t.

contentment
Can I just say that I honestly think Philippians 4 is my favorite chapter of the Bible?! 4:11 and 4:13 are two of my favorite verses EVERRRRRR! 

This is something I struggle with sometimes (okay… a lot).  I’ve always been the type of person to look forward to the next thing; graduation from HS, graduation from College, working, marriage, living life… I’m generally happy and easily excitable, but am I content?  Do I know how to really live in the moment, soaking it up and enjoying all the wonders that God provides every day?

new-mercies

As I sit here, on the day I turn 27, I reflect on the past years of my life.  I’ve done a lot, seen a lot, loved and worked a lot.  I’m not ANYWHERE near where I thought I’d be, had you asked me at 10.  I harbored fantasies that I’d be married by now (yes, I’m one of those people who have a pinterest board dedicated to my “one-day dream wedding”…no, I’m not ashamed), working at a job I loved, in a really cool place with lots of things to do, and of course I’d be making art, writing, reading, and doing all the things I love.

I’ve lost my hearing at 5, gained a Cochlear Implant at 6, played soccer for 16 years, graduated from High School as valedictorian, completed college with honors, struggled with an eating disorder (from which I learned a lot, and am eternally thankful for the people who supported me even when it made me want to hate them), run marathons, taught school, obtained a Masters degree, worked in museums, worked in a coffee shop (YUMMMMMM!), and am now wondering what else I will do.  I’m on the brink of potentially doing some things I couldn’t have pictured before; I’ve changed and grown a lot over the years, and I think I have a healthier perspective now than I’ve ever had.

There’s really only one thing I’m sure of… (okay; two… coffee is DELISH).

confidence

Okay, I think I’ll leave it at that for now.  Sorry (not sorry) for all the images, but as an artist, images often speak more than text alone.  I should make some images with verses and watercolors and sell those… hmmm… or just plaster them all over my walls to remind me of what I never EVER want to lose sight of!

Love you all!

Danielle

“Patience is a virtue”

We’ve all heard it said AT LEAST a million times… “Patience is a virtue.”  I honestly have no idea where this quote originated, and let me spare you the time of looking it up online; you’ll get a zillion different answers, and who knows which one is correct!

For me, I’ve heard it the most from my parents…

As a kid, I was ready to start playing soccer before I was old enough… “Patience is a virtue.”  (Although, my Athletic Director father went ahead and let me start)

When I lost my hearing, I was impatient to get to the next step, because I had to wear useless hearing aids (hearing aids are great, but when you have NO hearing for them to aid, not so much)… “Patience is a virtue.”

Growing up, I’d be super-impatient about something with school, theatre, art, etc… there it was again… “Patience is a virtue.”

Applying for college… “Patience is a virtue.”

Now I’m at a point of my life where I’ve heard it SO many times, I’m about sick of it, honestly.  I graduated from the Rochester Institute of Technology with my MFA in Fine Art this past May, and have VERY impatiently been applying and waiting for jobs.  In fact, I’ve been so impatient, I let fear rule my thoughts, and I almost took a job I didn’t really want, simply for the sake of working again–I’m so ready to get out on my own again, pave my own way into this crazy world, meet new people, see new things, visit new places…

But am I REALLY ready?  I know I’m mentally ready… but maybe I’m not physically, emotionally, psychologically, spiritually ready… All I know is that God has been really working on patience with me lately.  I KNOW that He will provide a job and sustenance and that His timing is so so so so much better than mine.  I KNOW that.  I trust Him.

But do I really LIVE out that knowledge, that trust?

I think that’s what God is trying to tell me.  Until I can 100% trust Him, maybe I’m not really ready to be on my own again.  Maybe He wants me to stay with my parents longer than I want, so I can be part of their lives, and enjoy the time I have with them, ’cause goodness knows it won’t last forever.  Maybe He wants me to be close to my brother and his wife, so I can watch their ADORABLE child, Bailey, grow up a bit before I leave and go elsewhere.  Maybe, maybe, maybe…

That brings me to today’s devotional reading from “David: Seeking God’s Heart,” a devotional study written by Beth Moore.  Today, I was reading in 2 Samuel, and the title of the chapter in the study was “Right Place: Sometimes God reveals Himself through experiences we don’t understand.”

Hello, smack in the face!

Today’s specific passage was 2 Samuel 2:1-7.  David has just heard about Saul’s death, as well as that of Saul’s sons, including Jonathan, with whom David was incredibly close.  David is trying to decide what to do, and where to go from here.  Instead of acting of his own accord, David ASKED God what he should do!  This is super important to note–at least for me–because David ALWAYS asked God what he should do before he did ANYTHING.  David knows that God can answer and that He will… in HIS time.  This is where Beth Moore says, “He had taken some wrong turns and some right turns, but he took virtually every step crying out to his God,” which reminds me that, no matter where we go or what we do, if we strive to plant our feet in God’s Way, we will get where we are going… it may  be a different route than we originally think… it may not be the scenic route… and it may start MUCH later than we want it to… but God knows what His plan is, not us… and HE knows what needs to happen in order to make it come to fruition.  We just need to trust and follow.

I used to think that constantly asking God for direction would be like pestering Him… like, He has SO much going on that I shouldn’t “bother” him by asking for the same thing over and over again.  But that is exactly what David does.  He asks God for direction, repeatedly, until God gives him specifics.  And until God does supply these specifics, David stays put.  I’m not saying that we shouldn’t do anything or go anywhere until God says something extremely specific (I honestly believe that God can and will use us anywhere, even if it’s somewhere that seems unlikely).  In fact, if you struggle with that, you should totally read the book, “Just Do Something,” by Kevin DeYoung.  It’s a pretty good read!

one day.jpg
Unfortunately, I cannot take any credit for this absolutely gorgeous and inspiring collage! 

Basically, what I’m saying is that, maybe… just maybe… asking God for specific directions isn’t a sign of impatience or a lack of trust.  Maybe it’s a sign of deepened trust; a trust that transcends the fear of becoming a bother.  Maybe, like prayer, asking God for specific directions is more for us, as humans, than it is for God.  Perhaps it is a reminder, a daily mantra, to help us persevere in our patience and remember just why it is that we are patiently waiting for God’s direction: ‘Cause His way is the ONLY way!

Beth Moore left some pretty good guidelines/suggestions for how to learn to listen to God’s Word when we are in doubt or struggling with what to do.  I’m gonna leave them here, and challenge you, and myself, to try to incorporate these more daily:

  1. Acknowledge your specific need for direction.
  2. Continue to pray and study His Word daily.
  3. Ask God to HELP you recognize His answer (we humans can be pretty darn dumb)
  4. Ask for a confirmation if you have any doubt. (God didn’t even hate Thomas for doubting, way back in John 20:24-29, when he appears to Thomas and the disciples after the Resurrection… He won’t hate us.  He’ll just help us understand.)

Sorry it’s a bit of a long one this time… I guess I had a lot to say!

Peace, love and Jesus,

Danielle

Okay… I can’t resist: “the” starbucks red cup post

So, if you’re on Facebook or ANY social media at all lately, chances are, you’ve seen post after post about Starbucks’ “war on Christmas.”  REALLY?

starbucks-cup-2009 starbucks-cup-2010  starbucks-cup-2012 starbucks-cup-2013 starbucks-cup-2014

I didn’t know what all the fuss was about at first, so I did some browsing–I didn’t have to go far–to figure it out.  Even the news is reporting it as a “thing” now.  It is absolutely insane.  Here is one example of a “report” about the “war on Christmas”…  Here is another… Here is YET ANOTHER…

Had enough?

Me too!  To quote Kristoff from Frozen (which we all know I love), “Can we please just stop talking about this?  We’ve got a real, actual problem here…”

Anna frozen

Starbucks has been using various holiday-themed cups for YEARS, with no indication of any relation to the Christian aspects of Christmas.  So, this year there are no snowflakes or decorations?  SO WHAT?!  Maybe Starbucks decided to go minimalist… does it make it any “less Christian” than before?… NO–They were never affiliated with Christianity in the first place!  Snowflakes, ornaments, reindeer…whatever… on a cup doesn’t make it Christian… NOR does the absence make it violent toward Christians.

IT’S A COFFEE CUP, PEOPLE.

I’m pretty sure it’s not written in the Bible anywhere that we should decorate our drinking vessels to promote Christianity.  No… however, it IS written that we should “love the Lord our God with all our heart, with all our strength, and with all our mind,” OH and guess what… we should “love our neighbor as ourselves.”  Luke 10:27

Sounds to me like we should all forget about the red cup “fiasco,” and focus on things that really matter, like spreading love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, meekness, and self-control (Galations 5:22-23).  We should share what we have with others, even if that means going out of our way to do so.  Matthew 25:40.

I could keep going, but I’m pretty sure you get the idea.  There are SO MANY more important things than worrying about whether a silly little cup has a snowflake on it.  And, quite frankly, if Starbucks WAS declaring war on Christmas, WHY would they still have Christmas blend coffee, Christmas gift cards, and Christmas ornaments for sale in their stores… just some food for thought.  Now, go enjoy your coffee… no matter what cup it’s in!  Drink it out of a jack-o-lantern cup, for all I care.

I, for one, am going to try to focus on what REALLY matters this Christmas: That Jesus was born, sent to earth, with the express purpose of saving me–and all His children–from ourselves; without God’s grace in sending His son, we would have no hope.  But because God is merciful and loving, we can know Him, His hope, His forgiveness, His salvation.  THAT is pretty awesome.  And no, I don’t need a snowflake to say so.

Peace, love and art,

danielle

Why I do what I do…

Hello lovelies!

I realize I haven’t really delved into WHY I paint, and more specifically why I am working with the subject of Revelations for my Thesis Exhibition.  I’m not shy about discussing these topics.  In fact, the reason I haven’t written about them can be seen as kind of the opposite; I have TOO MUCH to say about the topics!  Maybe this is because my reasons for painting and for depicting Revelations are personal, and integral to who I am…

Nevertheless, I shall try.  So, grab a hot cup of whatever you like to drink (coffee, please!) and let’s just dive right in! 🙂  I’ll just discuss why I paint in this post… Revelations will come soon! 🙂

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again; the reason I started making art–on a very basic level–was a blessing in disguise.  I was involved in theatre all through elementary school, middle school, and the beginning of high school.  Suddenly, my sophomore year, during West Side Story, the director said something that exiled me from the stage.  She said that deaf people may not be able to act, because they’ll miss their cues.  She forced me to quit the play, which also marked the end of my theatre career (at my high school, at least… I’ve done more plays and musicals since then, at other locations).

Okay... so our production wasn't shaping up to be quite THIS good..
Okay… so our production wasn’t shaping up to be quite THIS good..

I was heartbroken and cried like a BABY… I specifically remember the hour following my “discussion” with the director.  Long story short (because believe me; this part COULD get very l-o-n-g), I needed a new elective, since I would no longer be enrolling in theatre.  I had always been interested in art, and even took a “zero period” art class, which meant that school started at 7:00 for me throughout high school.  Needless to say, art was the only elective that made sense, because I DEFiNITELY can’t sing… haha!… and PE wasn’t competitive enough.  Funny how things work out, isn’t it?…

So, my junior year of high school, I started getting serious about making art.  I still did other things, like soccer, cross country, church activities, and theatre–at the rival high school (heehee)–but art became more important to me.  I liked it.  I was good at it, if I do say so myself.  I decided to take AP art my senior year, and pursue art in college.  This decision began the frenzy for school applications, portfolio visits, AP credits and class rankings… whew!  I don’t miss THAT craziness!

THANKFULLY, when all was said and done, I ended up at Brevard College in Brevard, NC, studying Studio Art with some AMAZING professors and colleagues.  In case you don’t know, Brevard is a GORGEOUS little town near Asheville, and I wouldn’t trade my time there, surrounded by the mountains, for anything!  My senior year at Brevard, I was presenting my thesis exhibition, and I chose to center the entire show around my deafness.  I’ve talked about this show before, and you can read/see it here!  During my exhibition, I stood, rooted in the corner, surrounded by people who were interested in my art and asked questions, which I answered… all night.  During that show, I just had this sense of calm and peace; I knew that God wanted me to paint.  He has called me to use my utmost for His highest (thank you, Oswald Chambers).

God gives us talents for a REASON.  He does not want us to squander them, keeping our gifts to ourselves.  What good would that do?!  No, He gives us talents to USE them, to bring Him glory.  He gave us His son on the cross, and all He wants in return is for us to choose to follow Him and serve Him with our gifts (which, need I remind you, are FROM HIM!)  I don’t mean to preach or anything, but this is something I feel strongly about.  (Here are some verses about talent, if you feel like taking a gander! 🙂 ) 

Hands shaping clay on potter's wheel
gift

So that is why I paint and make art, in general….Not for me, my professors, or even my clients, but FOR GOD!  I think I managed to keep it KIND OF short… remember, I warned you!  haha…Like I said, I could go ON and ON about this; it’s personal and convicting.  I don’t just create my artwork; God creates it through me, and I am His vessel.  To me, the most successful artworks I’ve created are the ones that just come together… I don’t always understand how or when, but I know a sense of calm when I work on them.  I know that this is God, guiding me to do my small portion of His kingdom work.  That being said, I’m not sorry if this is preachy… it’s just how I feel, and you can take it or leave it!  🙂

As always, peace, love and art!

-danielle